Letter To The Editor Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Leadership

Letter To The Editor

Letter To The Editor Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Leadership

What is wrong with the leadership of Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative? Does the JMEC Board’s leadership have the right credentials to lead or manage a “public utility” corporation? Are the current Cooperatives electric rates accurate for over 30,000 customers? Why is the Board of Trustees’ leadership restricting member access to the Cooperative’s information? Why was public comment not allowed by the Board President during the most recent annual meeting of corporation shareholders i.e., Cooperative members? Why is there no chief finance officer overseeing the Cooperative’s budget? Why are there no registered engineers on staff overseeing the daily upgrades and maintenance work being completed on the Cooperative’s facilities? Why has the Board’s leadership purposely excluded other Board Trustees from meetings when formulating Cooperative’s policy? Why is there a high turnover rate of the Cooperative’s engineers and other key positions? Why are Cooperative employees not permitted to talk with members about the operation of the Cooperative?

All of these questions and more really need to be answered particularly when you examine JMEC’s yearly report of expenditures and revenues in 1998, 2009, and 2017.  Each year JMEC is required to submit a report to the Federal government that summarizes the various JMEC expenditures and revenues for the past and upcoming budget year. These reports are publicly available on the Internet. After adjusting the figures for inflation and comparing the 1998 report with the 2017 report, the results shows a

  • 25% increase in maintenance costs for maintaining one mile of energized electrical line;
  • 100% increase in administration and overhead costs that includes Trustees compensation;
  • 40% increase in costs to preserve and maintain the Cooperative’s assets;
  • 30% increase in long term debt;
  • 40% increase in total liabilities i.e., payments; and,
  • 15% modest increase in total assets added to the JMEC inventory

These results reveal a very disturbing trend that JMEC is incurring more and more debt each year which was also supported by the 2009 report. Is JMEC head towards filing for bankruptcy? Maybe it is time for our NM State Auditor to examine the finances of JMEC or maybe it is time for the NM Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to “step-in” and fulfill its oversight responsibilities to the rate payers of JMEC by completing a thorough and detailed analysis of JMEC’s entire rate structure. This analysis will determine if the base rate structure is accurate, fair, and complete in recovering all of the costs incurred by JMEC to provide electrical service to its customers. To my knowledge this has never been completed by the PRC. Past rate increases submitted by JMEC have simply verified the increase as being reasonable and not that the base rate is accurate.  Once this analysis is completed and available, Cooperative members will be able to make a more informed decision when voting during the next JMEC Board Trustee election and possibly avoid JMEC from filing for bankruptcy.

I agree the Trustee’s should be reimbursed for their efforts in managing the Cooperative. Nonetheless, under the current and past leadership of the Board, the Board’s performance has been very dismal at best for the past many years. Further, the current leadership clearly does not embrace the fundamental principles of a cooperative namely, ethical values of honesty, openness, transparency, social responsibility and caring for others. Sure, Mr. Nick Naranjo, the current President has been office for the past couple years, but his recent actions have certainly demonstrated he does not understand the Cooperative is owned by its members and not him.

I am fairly confident the Board of Trustees particularly the President of the Board, Mr. Naranjo, will once again dispute the information in this letter to avoid embracing the principles of a cooperative. Cooperative members must have free and open access to Cooperative’s information and meetings and Cooperative employees need to be given the respect and trust to interact with the members they serve. Mr. Naranjo and other Board of Trustees, please note a Cooperative needs to work with its members, not against them. To quote Ben Franklin, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative members it is time for us to demand transparency and new leadership. Collectively, we all need to be proactive and work together towards changing JMEC to become a cooperative again and the current leadership will not allow this to happen. It is time for change!!!!!

Dave Neal